Turkey be­tween soured re­la­tions to­ward a com­mon govern­ment with Tehran!

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Gazi Has­san

Turkey’s re­la­tions with Tehran have cooled in re­cent years, seem­ingly as a re­sult of Turkey’s stance to­wards de­vel­op­ments in Syria, but also be­cause of Iran’s sup­port of the PKK (Kur­dis­tan Work­ers Party). At the same time, Turkey has bro­ken off re­la­tions with Is­rael.

How­ever, at the end of last week, Re­ceb Tayyip Er­doğan vis­ited Tehran and met with high-rank­ing of­fi­cials in­clud­ing the Supreme Leader of the Ira­nian Re­pub­lic, Ay­a­tol­lah Kham­nayi, and the new­ly­elected pres­i­dent, Has­san Ro­hani. Ac­cord­ing to the me­dia, the meet­ings proved to be pos­i­tive.

Dur­ing his visit, Er­doğan sought to achieve the best pos­si­ble re­la­tions with his con­flicted neigh­bor, which is also his Is­lamic friend, since both are com­mit­ted to a Mus­lim state, al­though their meth­ods, man­ners, cul­tures and doc­trines may dif­fer. This is the ob­vi­ous side of Er­doğan’s visit to Tehran. The less ap­par­ent side may re­late to other is­sues in­clud­ing the fu­ture of Syria and Geneva2, the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion and oil pipe­lines, the fu­ture roles of the PKK and the Kurds in Western Kur­dis­tan a part of which is re­lated to Iran’s role in sup­port­ing and pro­vok­ing the Kur­dish party who con­se­quently has com­mon en­emy with Syria, Iran and Qandil, adding to Iraq’s is­sue and Ma­liki’s govern­ment ).

Er­doğan has told Kham­nayi he felt very much at home in Iran; he even tabled the nor­mal­iz­ing of their re­la­tions to a level re­sem­bling a com­mon govern­ment. He has also ex­pressed the hope that they can fos­ter and main­tain their re­la­tion­ship and thereby present the world and the re­gion with a clear ideal of Mus­lim state­hood. In turn, Has­san Ro­hani has ex­pressed a wish for Ankara and Tehran to co­op­er­ate in erad­i­cat­ing ter­ror­ists. Ro­hani is ex­pected to pay a re­turn visit to Ankara in the near fu­ture, when de­vel­op­ing the co­op­er­a­tion coun­cil be­tween the two coun­tries will be on the agenda. Dur­ing the visit, three me­moranda of un­der­stand­ing were signed re­lat­ing to borders; de­vel­op­ing re­la­tions be­tween the Arna and Anadol news agen­cies; and de­vel­op­ing cul­tural re­la­tions be­tween the two na­tions and their film in­dus­tries.

As men­tioned, in­ter­nal de­vel­op­ments in Syria and com­mon co­op­er­a­tion against ter­ror have been dis­cussed be­hind closed doors. Some sources have in­di­cated that Kur­dis­tan’s oil was one of the top­ics dis­cussed. Both Tehran and Er­doğan seems to want to im­prove their po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion against ter­ror and rad­i­cal Is­lamic groups in Syria, and their state­ments to the me­dia men­tion brother­hood and a joint anti-ter­ror plan. Ankara also seeks to de­velop eco­nomic and trad­ing re­la­tions.

Which is why a Turk­ish TV chan­nel re­vealed that Er­doğan had vis­ited Iran to de­velop re­la­tions in com­merce and en­ergy, and in so do­ing took a step closer to re­solv­ing the Syria-re­lated dis­putes and tak­ing ad­van­tage of Tehran’s diplo­matic open­ness in the re­gion and the West.

At the same time, Turkey seems to want to move be­yond the frame­work of its strate­gic re­la­tions with the US. If we go back a lit­tle in time to the lib­er­a­tion of Iraq, Er­doğan’s govern­ment did not al­low the US army and its al­lies to launch strikes against Sad­dam Hus­sein’s regime from Turk­ish soil, what made the process prob­lem­atic. What’s more, Turkey’s re­la­tions with Is­rael, a for­mer strate­gic ally, have de­te­ri­o­rated, while Turkey re­cently made a move to­wards de­vel­op­ing its re­la­tions with China, which must be a cause of con­cern for Amer­ica. Re­gard­ing its open­ness to­wards Iran, Amer­ica be­lieves it is still early days. Be­fore his visit to Tehran, Er­doğan met with US fi­nance min­is­ter, David Co­hen, who told Er­doğan that it is still early days for open­ness to­ward Iran, and that more co­op­er­a­tion with Iran is not a good idea. This may has made Turkey be­lieve that Obama is also think about nor­mal­iz­ing re­la­tions be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Tehran, which is why he may have de­cided to get in there first and not be­come marginal­ized af­ter US-Ira­nian bi­lat­eral re­la­tions re­turn to a nor­mal foot­ing. More­over, since Ro­hani took of­fice, Iran has been mov­ing fast to­wards an open­ing with the West, al­though it may have re­tained the same in­flex­i­bil­ity with re­gard to the Syr­ian is­sue. That is why Ankara may also be think­ing about Syria as it seeks to de­velop its eco­nomic and trad­ing re­la­tions with Tehran. Given that Iran may well soon be co­op­er­at­ing with Turkey in the elim­i­na­tion of rad­i­cal Is­lamic groups, Tehran and Syria may also help Turkey pre­vent the PKKaf­fil­i­ated PYD mak­ing too many ad­vances in Western Kur­dis­tan (Syria).

Er­doğan’s govern­ment wants to soften its po­lit­i­cal crises and se­vere in­ter­nal dis­putes through fur­ther eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Thus, if Turkey and its in­vest­ment com­pa­nies in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion have proved suc­cess­ful in re­solv­ing the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal is­sues, and to si­lence na­tional and po­lit­i­cal rad­i­cal­ism against Kurds in gen­eral, through eco­nom­i­cal and trad­ing re­la­tions, they may want to do the same in Iran, too. Given that Iran has a pop­u­la­tion of 76 mil­lion and vast oil and gas re­serves, there will be a great op­por­tu­nity for for­eign in­vestors should it open up its econ­omy--and Turkey will cer­tainly be look­ing to be one of these.

Let us con­sider this in­for­ma­tion which an Ira­nian of­fi­cial has re­vealed: trade be­tween Iran and Turkey reached $22 bil­lion in 2012, but fell in 2013 to $20 bil­lion. How­ever, the num­ber is ex­pected to rise to $30 bil­lion by 2015. Whilst Iran is Turkey’s third largest ex­port mar­ket, the same source has said Turkey has ex­ported about 20,000 types of prod­ucts in­clud­ing gold and sil­ver to Iran.

Er­doğan’s visit may well be a cause of con­cern to Amer­ica, which will not want a close friend like Turkey mov­ing so fast to­ward com­mer­cial open­ness with Iran, against which eco­nomic sanc­tions are still in place. At the same time, there is a risk of Turkey’s ini­tia­tive lead­ing to a neg­a­tive open­ness, in so far as the bal­ance of power tilts to­wards Iran, in which case all in­ter­na­tional steps to­wards a diplo­matic res­o­lu­tion of the Syr­ian cri­sis may come to noth­ing. For now, the Syr­ian regime can also op­press its op­po­si­tion far more than it is do­ing, even as dozens of crimes against hu­man­ity are be­ing com­mit­ted in the name of strik­ing out at ter­ror. This may lead to Iran’s po­lit­i­cal role grow­ing stronger, just as Turkey wants to strengthen its eco­nomic and com­mer­cial roles. We should bear in mind, too, that both coun­tries are striv­ing to take over Amer­ica’s role and po­si­tion in a new and rapidly chang­ing Mid­dle East.

The main fear is that Turkey and Iran may turn the clock back 500 years in the Mid­dle East and di­vide the re­gion once again be­tween Turkey’s eco­nomic and Iran’s po­lit­i­cal dom­i­na­tion.

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